Microbiology, Immunology & Physiology

Welcome to the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Physiology at Meharry Medical College


We are an inclusive community whose passion for discovery, service, leadership, and sharing knowledge addresses issues of infectious and cardiovascular diseases that significantly affect African American and disadvantaged minority populations. We aim to develop new treatments to reduce health disparities and tackle immunology challenges.


Unlocking the Mysteries of Microbial Pathogens, their Interactions with the Host, Microbial Immunity, and Cardiovascular Disease.


Our faculty members study several aspects of molecular microbial pathogenesis, microbial biochemical pathways, molecular pathogen interactions with the host, microbial immunity, and cardiovascular disease to develop new drugs and vaccines.


Our faculty uses cutting-edge approaches and innovative strategies to study molecular microbial pathogenesis, striving to understand the mechanisms by which viruses (including HIV), bacteria, fungi, and protozoan parasites elicit pathogenesis in the infected host. Conversely, researchers also investigate the molecular pathways by which the host immune response strives to overcome these infections. Investigators also study the unique organelles in protozoan pathogens to develop new drugs for parasitic diseases. The faculty also addresses important questions underlying the mechanisms of the physiological and pathophysiological activities of the cardiovascular and reproductive systems that disproportionately affect underrepresented populations.


As a result, members of the department and their teams have discovered novel mechanisms of pathogenesis for HIV, protozoan pathogens, innate immunity to intracellular pathogens, and elucidated protozoa-cell interphase leading to infection. The faculty also discovered new host factors that play critical roles in the infection of intracellular pathogens, novel regulators of microbial infections in the heart, new pathogen molecules that are essential for pathogen survival that are targets for drug development, and new cutting-edge vaccines for parasitic diseases. They also have discovered several new mechanisms of innate immunity and novel small molecules that cure parasitic protozoan infections that affect the heart and new small molecules derived from microbial communities that inhibit HIV replication as new therapeutics for HIV infection. Investigators have discovered novel small molecules that target essential pathogenic protozoa and fungal molecules required for microbial survival that cure parasitic infections. Furthermore, investigators have elucidated the structure and function of the mitochondrial protein import machinery in pathogenic trypanosomes important for the design of a novel therapy for sleeping sickness.
In the other hand, members of the department have discovered new mechanisms of microbial- induced cardiopathogenesis, and novel mechanisms of atherosclerosis, atherogenesis, foam cell formation, and hypertension leading to cardiovascular disease.
 Over the years our faculty members and their teams have published their discoveries in high-impact journals such Nature, Nature Cell Biology, Science, Cell, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, among others.


We are Training the Next Generation of African American Scientists and Health Providers
In addition to their research, faculty members in the department teach in the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Graduate Studies including the Division of Public Health Practice.
We have been training the next generation of successful African American in infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. The Microbiology, Immunology, and Physiology graduate Programs of the department has two NIH training grants for over 25 years.
The Molecular Microbial Pathogenesis Training Program (2T32AI007281-31) provides training opportunities to PhD and MD/PhD students in Molecular Microbial Pathogenesis in the areas of Cell Host and Microbe, Infection and Immunity, and Structure/Function of Virulence Factors.
The Research Training in Cardiovascular Biology at Meharry (2T32HL007737-26) provides training opportunities to PhD and MD/PhD students in cardiovascular biology to elucidate mechanisms causing cardiovascular as well as hematologic diseases.

Graduates from our Graduate Programs of the department are in outstanding academic positions, including research-intense institutions, in governmental agencies such as NIH, FDA, CDC, and EPA, and top Biopharma positions.

Department News

Dr. Chandravanu Dash

Dr. Dash was appointed as the Regular Standing Member for the NIH Study Section “HIV Virology, Cellular Biology, and Drug Development (HVCD).

The Laboratory of Dr. Dash, Professor and Interim Chair, published the following articles:

Prakash P, Khodke P, Balasubramaniam M, Davids BO, Hollis T, Davis J, Kumbhar B, Dash C. Three Prime Repair Exonuclease 1 preferentially degrades the integration-incompetent HIV-1 DNA through favorable kinetics, thermodynamic, structural and conformational properties. Journal of Biological Chemistry 2024. Jun 3:107438. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2024.107438. Online ahead of print. PMID: 38838778. [LINK]


Prakash P, Swami Vetha BS, Chakraborty R, Wenegieme TY, Masenga SK, Muthian G, Balasubramaniam M, Wanjalla CN, Hinton AO Jr, Kirabo A, Williams CR, Aileru A, Dash C. HIV-Associated Hypertension: Risks, Mechanisms, and Knowledge Gaps. Circulation Research. 2024 May 24;134(11):e150-e175. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.124.323979. Epub 2024 May 23.PMID: 38781298. [LINK]


The Laboratory of Dr. Liu, a Professor, published the following article. Martin J, Chen X, Jia X, Shao Q, Liu B. The Disassociation of A3G-Related HIV-1 cDNA G-to-A Hypermutation to Viral Infectivity. Viruses. 2024 May 4;16(5):728. doi: 10.3390/v16050728.PMID: 38793610 [LINK]

Dr. Borza, an Associate Professor, is invited to serve as an ad-hoc member of the 2024/08 ZRG1 KUDS-R11 study section (Special Emphasis Panel reviewing SBIR/STTR grants in the area of renal and urological sciences).

Dr. Motley-Johnson, a Professor, was invited to speak at the Tuskegee University and other land grant institutions through the Student Success and Workforce Development Center of Excellence, to enhance the pipeline from postsecondary to graduate programs and careers. She participated on a panel as part of a webinar series to prepare students with the transition from undergraduate to graduate programs.

Dr. Pratap, an Associate Professor, was invited to speak at the PaBio PRISM Conference, The BioDiversity and Informatics for Genomics Scholars (BioDIGS), and the NHGRI AnVIL External Consulting Committee (ECC) meeting.

Contact Microbiology, Immunology & Physiology

Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Meharry Medical College School of Medicine
1005 Dr. D.B. Todd, Jr. Blvd.
Nashville, Tennessee 37208-3599
Phone: 615.327.6667


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